They are the people who live all around us.They come into our life for a short time,we greet each other and move on. But once in a while,something happens and we open up.Maybe it is because  we are third persons to each other and we do not really know much about that person or their family. Talking about our troubles relieves the mind of all pent up emotions.

There was this girl whom I have been seeing for years. One day we were just the two of us in the shop,I was asking about her well being and she suddenly started telling me about her mother who is suffering from dementia. This girl has to work hard for her living and cannot afford a full time nurse. She poured out her feelings and I think she felt a little better. She was also feeling troubled that she troubled me with her problems. We never mentioned the matter again.

Then there is this lady whom I meet once in a while,on my way back home. A remark by her friend opened her up and she poured out all her frustrations. Her husband is bedridden and her mother also needs looking after,her child is studying and she is the only earning member. She wants her child to have a good education and she feels so helpless sometimes,but life has to go on. Her salary is not very high and her chief worry is how to manage,every paise counts.

And I remember that lady I met in the transit lounge, we had to wait for many hours. There was some connection and we talked a lot about so many things and when we said good bye both of us  were surprised at what we had told each other. Maybe the knowledge that would never meet again made it easier for us to talk freely,what we would never have told someone closer to the family.

Just the other day,I was waiting in the hospital and a girl and her father were also waiting. They belonged to a lower income group.A nursing student came to talk to them.She looked like the girl’s sister. The father was looking at her with affection. When the girl left,the father turned to me and said the she was his daughter.There was so much pride in his voice.He told me that she would be completing her course in a few months. He just wanted to share his happiness. It was heartening to see  his willingness to educate his daughter and his happiness.

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“Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow”.  ~Swedish Proverb

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This year appa completed 81 years and we all decided to celebrate his birthday at Bharath Seva Ashram in Kanyana. This Ashram is known to most people as Kanyana Ashrama. Appa and amma have been giving lunch to everyone living here on the occasion of appa’s parents’ tithi. Gopala mava had arranged for a small bus to take us all to Kanyana. Appa,amma,Anna, Shaila,Ila, Anirudha,Ravi,Gowrishankar mava,Devaki atte, Subrahmanya, Gopalamava, Ishwary atte, two of their neighbours,Jayarama mava and both of us left at about 10’o clock. Keshava joined us there.

Kanyana ashrama is managed and looked after by Ishwara Bhat and his family and relatives. This ashrama was started in 1964 by Shri Dhirendranath Bhattacharya. During the partition of India Shri Bhattacharya came to India as a refugee from East Pakistan. Life as a refugee was very different from what his life had been in his home country. After facing and overcoming a lot of hardships,he got a job in Poddar & Company as and officer in the Iron ore research section. During the course of his work he came to Kanyana. After completing his work here he went to Shirdi for a few days, he was a great devotee of Shirdi Saibaba.In his dream ,Shirdi Saibaba told him that his life’s work was in Kanyana. Resigning from his job,he came back.There was a lot of poverty in those days. Shri Bhattacharya and his wife,Sarojiniamma started this ashram in a small hut with five orphans. In the beginning,he was not accepted by the local people who were suspicious of his intentions. But,slowly he and his family got the love and respect of the people. For almost fifty years this ashram has been a home to many children,homeless women,old people and mentally challenged people. They are looked after by Sarojiniamma,Ishwara Bhat,his wife,Sarita,her sister Vijayalakshmi ,her husband and relatives and well wishers. Ishwara bhat grew up in this ashram,he is a lawyer and is managing all the affairs of the place. His wife,Sarita is the daughter of Shri Bhattacharya and Sarojiniamma. The children go to the school in Kanyana and continue their higher studies. All those who are able to,are given vocational training. Schooling and vocational training helps them to face life with confidence. Over the years,the girls who grew up in this home,got married and  have settled in life. They were always welcomed here for their first delivery,this being their parents’ home.

In the small and beautiful, Shirdi temple,we offered prayers to Shirdi Saibaba. There was a beautiful surprise for appa and amma and all of us. Ishwara Bhat and Sarita had arranged for a small function. Appa and amma exchanged garlands, amma was blushing away and we all were so happy for them. There was  aarati by Sarita and Vijayalakshmi ,Ila and myself. All of us touched the feet of appa and amma and they gave us their blessings. It was a very emotional moment and we were all feeling very happy. Then some of the children came and sang ‘happy birthday to you’ and two other beautiful songs. Appa and amma had asked for a special lunch to be prepared  for everyone. There was holige and payasa too. It was all prepared by the women of the household. After lunch, we met everyone and talked to them,then we gave sarees to those who wore sarees and nighties  to those who did not wear sarees. Mr Ishwara Bhat had earlier told amma the number of sarees and nighties needed. The ladies were very happy and we were equally happy to see them happy.  We left at about 3.30 after a very satisfying day. We all were happy to be a part of appa’s birthday celebration.

http://rivr.sulekha.com/bharat-sevashram-founded-by-dhirendranath-bhattacharya_557550_blog

Mr Ishwara Bhat’s phone number  08255 266235

Ours is a small place which has been a beautiful place full of forests and greenery. But,unfortunately things are fast changing and we can only wonder what this place will look like in ten years. Forests are being razed to the ground and concrete jungles are coming up. The heart bleeds to see this cold blooded murder of all those beautiful trees and of all those animals and birds who have lost their homes to human greed.

The heights of irony are the names given to the concrete jungle – Blueberry Woods, Regal Woods, Green View, Green Valley View and the like. There are no woods and everything green is becoming grey.

We wonder whether these are woods and valleys that we are leaving behind for the future generations. If we do not wake up now,then it will be too late. The common people understand this . But for people with power and money, the future is not important,what is important is money and more money now.

“Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth”.  ~Henry David ThoreauImage

The other day I met this lady at her work place and we got talking.A very pleasant lady with a ready smile.Her husband is an agriculturist.They live in a small village and she has to work here to add to the income of the family. She has to walk for half an hour to reach the nearest bus stop and has to change buses twice to reach her place of work. The bus fares have increased over the years and it makes a big hole in her pocket. They cannot think of leaving their home because agriculture is their main occupation.Her steady income makes a lot of difference.A farmer can never be sure of how much he will get for his produce. Unfortunately, the grower gets the least for what he has grown,the middlemen make a profit.This lady has two children and she and her husband are giving them a good education.That is the best thing which we can give to our children. She has accepted her way of life as her Destiny and is making the best of what has come her way. She is doing it with a smile.Many a times our belief in Karma and destiny makes it easier to accept so many difficulties.We stop fighting them and that  makes it easier to find a solution.

When I read about the conflict ridden places in different parts of the world and think about the life of people living in those places, the life of this lady seems so secure. All of us have to go one day,but she does not have to worry whether she and her family will be alive the next day or whether her house will be destroyed by a bomb and so many other worries.  Such insecurities and tensions are a way of life in such places. And that is really sad.Image

 

Every morning I open the windows of the the room to let in the fresh air. It is still dark and quiet outside. In a little while as if guided by an invisible hand,I hear birds calling out to each other. Theirs is an insistent cry and I hear a number of answers to the first cry from all sides. Of course, the cock crying out to herald the beginning of an new day. It is so reassuring to hear the calls. During some months,I hear a beautiful human like whistling from a little bird,which I have never seen. It is the Malabar Whistling Thrush. Its  tuneful whistle makes my day. The orchestra goes on for some time.

Every day I wonder what the birds are saying to each other. Maybe the matriarch or the patriarch is giving everyone instructions for the day. It is dark and I am not able to see any of these birds,I have only heard them. Their music starts my day on a joyful note. The mornings after the full moon night are so beautiful,with the moon still visible and the beauty of the dawn is made more beautiful by the music of the birds.

This always reminds of this line by Rabindranath Tagore, “ Faith is the bird which feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark”.Such a beautiful thought. Faith in God and Faith in ourselves and by keeping faith, it possible to believe that there is not enough darkness in the world to extinguish the light of a small candle.

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